Mar 29, 2019
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Mind Control set for G3 Bay Shore; Joevia slated for G2 Wood Memorial presented by NYRA Bets

by NYRA Press Office

  • Mind Control set for G3 Bay Shore; Joevia slated for G2 Wood Memorial presented by NYRA Bets
  • Servis readies stakes contingent for Wood Memorial Day assignments
  • Woodward winner Yoshida set for Dubai World Cup; Tacitus tapped for Wood Memorial
  • Jose Ortiz well-mounted for Dubai World Cup card
  • Skyler's Scramjet looks to improve off last year's G1 Carter effort
  • Wood Memorial Challenge registration deadline set for April 4
  • Mandatory payouts at Aqueduct on Saturday April 20
  • Wood Memorial Day stakes probables

Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stables' Mind Control will be pointed towards the Grade 3, $250,000 Bay Shore while stablemate Joevia will make his graded stakes debut in the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by NYRA Bets, trainer Greg Sacco said Friday morning. Both races are part of a stacked card featuring five graded stakes on Saturday, April 6 at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Mind Control and Joevia, owned by Michael and Jeff Fazio, both breezed Friday, with the former going five furlongs in 1:02.01 and the latter going four furlongs in 48 seconds on the Belmont Park training track.

"Both colts worked great and cooled out good," Sacco said.

Mind Control, 3-2-0 in six career starts, will be seeking his second graded stakes win after capturing the Grade 1 Hopeful on September 3 at Saratoga. Following a seventh-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile that capped his 2-year-old year, the Stay Thirsty colt won the Jerome on New Year's Day at Aqueduct and ran second to Haikal in the Grade 3 Gotham over the same track and one-mile distance on March 9.

Sacco said Mind Control's connections, including Red Oak Stable's co-owner Steve Brunetti and his brother, Red Oak racing manager Rick Sacco, made the decision to run in the Bay Shore, a seven-furlong contest for 3-year-olds, instead of the 1 1/8-mile Wood. Sacco said the plan would then be to target the Grade 1, $400,000 Woody Stephens, also run at seven furlongs, on Belmont Stakes Day on Saturday, June 8.

"They are comfortable where he's at in his development and looking forward to the rest of the year," Sacco said.

Joevia won in his debut on July 15 at Monmouth Park. Following a seven-month layoff, the Shanghai Bobby colt returned and stretched out from five furlongs to seven-eighths of a mile, finishing second by a neck to Haikal in the Jimmy Winkfield on February 9. Sacco extended Joevia again in the 1 1/16-mile Private Terms, where he ran second in earning a personal-best 85 Beyer Speed Figure on March 16 at Laurel Park.

Joevia will now be looking to take a step up in class in the 94th running of the Wood Memorial, part of the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" series that offers 100-40-20-10 qualifying points to the first four finishers for the Run for the Roses on May 4 at Churchill Downs.

"I think he handled two turns at Laurel well," Sacco said. "He came out of his last race great and worked super today. He has to step it up in the Wood and we feel he will."

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Servis readies stakes contingent for Wood Memorial Day assignments

Following up on a successful winter meet in which he has accumulated 18 wins from 66 starts through Friday's card, trainer Jason Servis said he is looking to gear up for the upcoming Aqueduct spring meet, with a bevy of formidable stakes contenders for the Wood Memorial Day card on April 6.

In the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial, Servis said he will likely enter Gary and Mary West's Final Jeopardy. The son of Street Sense impressively won his debut by 5 ¼ lengths on December 9 at Gulfstream Park, going six furlongs, and kicked off his 3-year-old campaign on January 5 with a third-place finish in the Limousine. 

He bested a field of seven by 3 ¼ lengths going a mile in his most recent start; an optional claiming race on March 3.

Set to try two-turns for the first time in his career in the Wood, Servis, speaking from his winter base in Palm Meadows, Florida, said he is pleased with Final Jeopardy's development this winter.

"He's really got us excited," Servis said. "He's come along real nicely over the winter and steadily improved with each start. Being a son of Street Sense, he's certainly bred to handle the two turns just fine, so we're looking forward to giving him a shot to get to the [Kentucky] Derby off the Wood [effort]."

Servis also said he is pointing multiple graded stakes placed runner World of Trouble to the Grade 1, $400,000 Carter Handicap.

The 4-year-old Kantharos colt has wheeled off back-to-back victories this winter at Gulfstream, capturing the Marion County and the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint prior to finishing second by neck in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint last fall at Churchill Downs.

Transferred to the care of Servis following his second career start, in which he ran second in the Florida Sire Affirmed at Gulfstream, World of Trouble has amassed a record of five wins with two seconds and one third-place finish from eight starts, with stakes wins on both dirt and turf.

"I knew we had something special when I first ran him at Tampa [Pasco] as a 2-year-old and he won be 13 [lengths] and was a just a tick off the track record, but he's been really special for us. He's performed every time out and we're excited to get his spring campaign going in the Carter."

Servis reported multiple graded-stakes winner Call Paul would look to enter the Grade 3 Bay Shore off a 1 ¼ length win in the Grade 3 Swale on February 2 at Gulfstream.

"Everyone has been training well and been in good order so far," said Servis. "We still have to ship everyone north and hope they get on the van well, but I think we've got good chances in each of these stakes in New York next week."

Servis stakes contingent is expected to arrive to the Big Apple on Wednesday.

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Woodward winner Yoshida set for Dubai World Cup; Tacitus tapped for Wood Memorial

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott is enjoying a remarkable start to 2019 with a trio of Kentucky Derby contenders - Hidden Scroll, Country House and Tacitus - as well as conditioning one of the favorites for the Group 1, $12 million Dubai World Cup.

Owned by China Horse Club International, WinStar Farm, Starlight Racing, and Head of Plains Partners, Yoshida is being prepared locally for the Dubai World Cup by Mott's son, Riley.

With just shy of $2 million in career earnings, the versatile Yoshida rose to prominence last summer by capturing two Grade 1 events, the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs and the Woodward on the Saratoga dirt, in a three-month span.

"The win in Saratoga was very big for him and his career as a stallion. It led us to believe he could compete in races like this," said Riley Mott from Meydan. "Although he ran in the Pegasus Turf last time, we've always had the Dubai World Cup on our radar, so it's no surprise we're here."

Yoshida, a 5-year-old son of Heart's Cry, finished sixth last time out in the inaugural Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational on a yielding Gulfstream Park turf.

"It rained so much that day, I think any horse that ran that day can turn to that as an excuse," Mott said. "We're happy with how he came out of it and he's leading up to this race very well."

Yoshida, who launched his career by finishing second on the Aqueduct turf in November 2016, is now among the top older horses in the country. The talented bay proved his Woodward win was no fluke when he followed up with a rallying fourth, despite a bobbled start, in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic.

Mott, whose father saddled Cigar to a victory in the inaugural Dubai World Cup in 1996, said Yoshida's versatility is a harbinger for potential greatness at stud.

"It's very rare to win a Grade 1, but to have one on both surfaces speaks a lot for the horse and hopefully as a stallion he's very productive for both types of offspring," Mott said.

A world away, Juddmonte Farm homebred Tacitus, by Tapit out of multiple Grade 1-winner Close Hatches, is considering the Grade 2 Wood Memorial as the follow-up to his impressive win in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby.

Tacitus graduated at second asking in November at Aqueduct and is training forwardly at Payson Park in Florida.

"He came out of his win at Tampa very well. He's a very exciting horse for us," Mott said trackside in Dubai. "The Wood is a possibility. We're leaning in that direction at this point. He has a win over the track, so that race is pretty enticing."

Close Hatches, who was also conditioned by Mott for Juddmonte, was named Eclipse Champion Older Mare in 2014 on the back of Grade 1 wins in the Ogden Phipps at Belmont and the Personal Ensign at Saratoga.

Riley said that training a son of the champion mare adds to the excitement of the Derby trail.

"Certainly. She's one of the best race mares we've ever had," Mott said. "For it being a Juddmonte mare, who have been so great to us over the years, it's definitely special to have Tacitus perform so well."

With Hidden Scroll expected to be favored in the Florida Derby and Country House pointing to the Arkansas Derby, the Mott stable is loaded for bear for the first Saturday in May.

Mott said at this stage it's too hard to separate their contenders.

"They're all a bit different, but they're all quality horses," Mott said. "The main thing is just getting there in one piece."

On Saturday, the first of nine races from Dubai will begin at 7:45 a.m. Eastern. The Dubai World Cup is slated as Race 9 with a post time of 12:40 p.m. Eastern.

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Jose Ortiz well-mounted for Dubai World Cup card

Jose Ortiz, the 2017 Eclipse Award winner as the nation's outstanding jockey, has enjoyed a meteoric rise to success.

The 25-year-old rider captured his first riding title at the 2014 Aqueduct spring meet and is now, arguably, the best rider in North America.

On Saturday night in the United Arab Emirates, the young jockey, born in Trujillo, Puerto Rico, will fulfill a lifelong dream when he pilots multiple Grade 1-winner Yoshidain the Group 1, $12 million Dubai World Cup.

"It's amazing to be here," Ortiz said. "The racetrack is just amazing. I've watched it on TV but to be here riding these kinds of races is amazing. I think I have a good shot with Yoshida. If it's meant to be it's meant to be."

Ortiz has four mounts on the lucrative card and will also guide Coal Front in the Group 2, $1.5 million Godolphin Mile; Plus Que Parfait in the Group 2, $2.5 million UAE Derby; and Imperial Hint in the Group 1, $2.5 million Dubai Golden Shaheen.

Ortiz arrived at the Meydan track early Thursday morning and hopped aboard Plus Que Parfait to get a feel for the track. The studious young rider has prepared for Saturday's Dubai debut by watching numerous race replays.

"I've been watching the races from here for over a month, to see how the track plays" Ortiz said.

Yoshida made his career debut, a good second on the Aqueduct turf in November 2016, under Ortiz and the duo were recently reunited for a fourth-place effort in the Breeders' Cup Classic and a solid sixth in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational.

The talented rider said the colt has made great strides in a career that now boasts Grade 1 wins on turf and dirt, having taken the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs and the Woodward at Saratoga in his dirt debut.

"I took Yoshida to the gate when he was a baby still and he has changed a lot," Ortiz said. "When I got back on him, he's a whole different horse."

With a lot of speed signed on for the Dubai World Cup, Ortiz will be charged with engineering Yoshida's trademark cavalry charge.

"I just want to try and break good and have a good position going into the first turn," Ortiz said.

Ortiz will pilot Imperial Hint, a winner of three graded races last year in New York including the Grade 2 True North at Belmont, the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga and the Grade 1 Vosburgh back at Belmont, for the first time in the Golden Shaheen.

Last time out, Imperial Hint finished a disappointing third in the Pelican on a tiring Tampa Bay Downs track.

"If you throw his last race out, he has a big shot," Ortiz said. "Now, with the scratch of Roy H, he's going to have the one-hole. He's rateable. When he won the Vanderbilt at Saratoga, he came off the pace and won very impressively. I won't be afraid to take him back. I have a lot of speed outside of me so that's probably what I'm going to have to do."

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Skyler’s Scramjet looks to improve off last year’s G1 Carter effort

SJB Stable and Marcello Micozzi's Skyler's Scramjet remains on target for the 119th running of the Grade 1, $400,000 Carter Handicap for 4-year-olds and up on April 6 as one of five graded stakes on Wood Memorial Day, trainer Michelle Nevin said by phone.

The Carter, contested at seven furlongs, will mark the third consecutive graded stakes appearance at the Big A for Skyler's Scramjet in his 5-year-old campaign after running third in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap on March 9 at six furlongs and second behind Solid Wager in the Grade 3 Toboggan on January 19 at the Carter distance.

The Creative Cause gelding, who ran fourth in the Carter's 2018 edition, has four wins in nine career starts and two runner-up efforts at Aqueduct, including by a head to Recruiting Ready in the Gravesend on December 23 in which he earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure, marking just the second triple-digit effort in 16 career starts.

"He's been training good, so we'll see what happens," Nevin said.

Skyler's Scramjet is stabled at Aqueduct, breezing four furlongs in 49.67 seconds on Sunday.

"It's always an advantage to not have to ship and stay at home," Nevin said. 

Since turning 4 in 2018, Skyler's Scramjet is 2-3-0 in eight starts. Following a second-place finish in the Runhappy on May 12 at Belmont, Nevin saw her charge finish sixth in the Mr. Prospector on June 17 at Monmouth Park. Nevin then gave Skyler's Scramjet a six-month freshening. Making his third start off the break, the Kentucky-bred will be looking to notch his second career graded stakes win and first since the 2018 Tom Fool.

"He matured and is doing really well," Nevin said. "We all need a break sometimes. I thought it was good to give him a little time off."

Nevin said it is likely Dylan Davis could be back in the irons. Davis was aboard for the last three starts.

Kildare Stud's Intoxicologist will be making the step up to stakes company for the first time when she competes in Sunday's fourth running of the $100,000 Maddie May for 3-year-old New York-bred fillies at one mile.

The daughter of Central Banker won her debut on January 5 at Aqueduct and followed that maiden-breaking effort by running second to Elegant Zip in an allowance optional claimer on March 1 over the same track.

She drew post 6 in the 10-horse field and will have the services of Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.

"She's looked good in her first two starts," Nevin said. 

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Wood Memorial Challenge registration deadline set for April 4

The journey to the Belmont Stakes Challenge continues on Saturday, April 6 at Aqueduct Racetrack with the Wood Memorial Challenge as part of the 2019 NYRA Handicapping Challenge series.

The live-money challenge, with a $500 entry fee, of which $250 will be allocated to the prize pool and $250 for each player's live bankroll, will see contestants compete on races from Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park, and Churchill Downs.

Contestants must register online at In order to enter and play online, contestants must be registered NYRA Bets account holders. New NYRA Bets members are currently eligible to receive a bet $200 get $200 bonus. To learn more, visit

In addition to prize money and live-money winnings, the Wood Memorial Challenge provides horseplayers the opportunity to qualify for a seat to the two-day 2019 Belmont Stakes Challenge on June 7-8 or one of two seats to the National Horseplayers Championship in February 2020.

Registration for the Wood Memorial Challenge is available now through Thursday, April 4 at 5:00 p.m. For more information and rules please visit

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Mandatory payouts at Aqueduct for Closing Day on Saturday, April 20

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) has announced, in accordance with the rules and regulations of the New York State Gaming Commission, a mandatory payout will take place on Saturday, April 20 at Aqueduct Racetrack for the early Pick 5, NYRA Bets Late Pick 5 and Pick 6.

The early Pick 5, covering the first five races on the day's card, will kick off the first of the mandatory multi-race payout wagers on April 20 with a first post 1:30 p.m.

The NYRA Bets Late Pick 5, available exclusively to NYRA Bets members nationwide, as well as on-track in New York or through a simulcast facility, is offered on the last five races. The Pick 6 will cover the last six races.

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Wood Memorial week stakes probables

Friday, April 5: The Grade 3, $150,000 Distaff

Probable: Come Dancing (Carlos Martin); Dawn the Destroyer (Kiaran McLaughlin); Heavenly Score (John Terranova); Holiday Disguise (Linda Rice); Kathryn the Wise (Chad Brown); Pacific Gale (John Kimmel); Yorkiepoo Princess (Edward Barker)

Saturday, April 6: The Grade 3, $150,000 Excelsior 

Probable: Discreet Lover (Uriah St. Lewis); Holiday Bonus (Gregory DiPrima); Monongahela (Jason Servis); Shivermetimbers (Steve Asmussen);

Possible: Royal Albert Hall (Rob Atras); Third Day (Brian Lynch); Unbridled Juan (Jose Corrales)

Saturday, April 6: The Grade 3, $250,000 Bay Shore

Probable: Call Paul (Servis); Mind Control (Greg Sacco); Sparky Ville (Jeff Bonde)

Possible: Stone Breaker (Gary Gullo)

Saturday, April 6: The Grade 2, $300,000 Gazelle

Probable: Afleet Destiny (St. Lewis); Always Shopping (Todd Pletcher); Espresso Shot (Jorge Abreu); Off Topic (Pletcher)

Possible: Dunbar Road (Brown); Oxy Lady (Jack Sisterson); Positive Spirit (Rodolphe Brisset); Proud Emma (Peter Miller)

Saturday, April 6: The Grade 1, $400,000 Carter Handicap

Probable: Identity Politics (Brown); Skyler's Scramjet (Michelle Nevin); Vino Rosso (Pletcher); World of Trouble (Servis)

Possible: New York Central (Asmussen); Timber Ghost (Jerkens)

Saturday, April 6: The Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by NYRA Bets

Probable: Final Jeopardy (Servis); Grumps Little Tots (Servis); Haikal (McLaughlin); Joevia (Sacco); Outshine (Pletcher); Overdeliver (Pletcher); Tacitus (Bill Mott); Tax (Danny Gargan)

Possible: Much Better (Bob Baffert)

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